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Machine age

Related: robot - 1920s - 1930s - 1940s - industry - futurism - Le Corbusier - design - modern architecture - streamline moderne - technology - mechanical

For a good example of the Machine Age in the 'high arts' see Portrait of an American Girl in the Nude (1917) and other works by Francis Picabia as well as the works of the Purism movement in France. [Apr 2006]


The Machine Age is an techno-utopian artistic and stylistic period which roughly lasted from 1918 until 1940. [Feb 2006]

Techno-utopianism is any ideology based on the belief that advanced science and technology will eventually bring about a techno-utopia, a future society with ideal living conditions for all its citizens.


After Auschwitz, the optimism of positivist views led place to more pessimistic conceptions of science. The Holocaust, as did Theodor Adorno underline, seem to shatter the ideal of Condorcet and others thinkers of the Enlightenment, which commonly considered scientific progress to be a necessary form of social progress. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Techno-utopianism [Feb 2006]

See also: utopia


  1. The Machine Age in America 1918-1941 - Richard Guy Wilson, Dianne H. Pilgrim, Dickran Tashjian, Dickaran Tashjian [Amazon.com]
    The Brooklyn Museum of Art presents a reprint of the catalogue to its benchmark 1986 exhibit The Machine Age in America: 1918-1941 by scholars Richard Guy Wilson, Dianne H. Pilgrim and Dickran Tashjian. Following on the culture-crit assertion that "the machine in all its many manifestations was the defining force in America during the years between the two great wars," the authors trace the era's aesthetic qualities in Buicks, Frank Lloyd Wright houses, Oskar J. Hansen's Ayn Randian sculpture Winged Figures of the Republic on the Hoover Dam, Berenice Abbott's photographs of steamships, Electrolux vacuum cleaners, Russell Wright's seminal flatware and furniture designs, Joseph Stella's vivid abstractions of the Brooklyn Bridge, and a host of other art works and utilitarian objects. Pop and material culture lovers will swoon over the 410 illustrations (55 in full color) and the erudite essays.

Modern Times (1936) - Charlie Chaplin

  1. Modern Times (1936) - Charlie Chaplin [Amazon.com]
    Charlie Chaplin is in glorious form in this legendary satire of the mechanized world. As a factory worker driven bonkers by the soulless momentum of work, Chaplin executes a series of slapstick routines around machines, including a memorable encounter with an automatic feeding apparatus.

Charles Sheeler and the Cult of the Machine - Karen Lucic

  1. Charles Sheeler and the Cult of the Machine - Karen Lucic [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Questions the view of American photographer and painter Sheeler (1886-1965) as a champion of the Machine Age, accepted by his contemporaries and by subsequent critics. Lucic (art, Vassar College) investigates his life, work, and values, and argues that he was ambivalent about machines. Includes nearly 70 good reproductions, some in color. No index. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or, via amazon.com

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